Schools to reduce number of teacher evaluations

By CLAIRE MOORMAN
Herald Staff Writer

Local school administrators are reducing the workload of their teacher evaluation plans after having observed the pros and cons over the past school year.

Greater Jasper Consolidated Schools Superintendent Tracy Lorey requested at a meeting this week that the school board accept her proposal to cut the number of teacher observations and amount of paperwork each principal must conduct and file annually. She met with a committee of teachers and administrators this summer to discuss what they had learned from their first year of using the state’s Indiana Research-based Inclusive System of Evaluation, known as the RISE model.

“It was very cumbersome,” Lorey said. “The amount of time that it would take an evaluator to complete all the requirements of the observation, the time outside of that to pull together the documentation and then to find time to share that with the teacher, although it was extremely valuable, it left little time for other important tasks that the principal had.”

Last school year, each principal in the corporation was required to complete at least two 40-minute observations of each teacher in the building. The principals also had to perform at least three shorter, 10-minute evaluations of each teacher throughout the year. Now, Lorey has suggested that the short observations be optional, and to make up for the decrease in short evaluation time, teachers with fewer than three years of experience will receive a third long review each year.

She said principals likely still will choose to do informal walk-throughs of classrooms periodically in lieu of the short evaluations, but because they will not need to fill out paperwork and set a follow-up meeting with the teacher, it will free up time. She added that administrators had not had much opportunity to develop the plan to suit their needs before it went into effect last year.

“In the quick turnaround of when we were expected to implement an evaluation tool, many schools like ourselves opted to go with the state model,” she said. “As long as we include the requirements that are dictated to us by the state, then we can use any model that we want to.”

Though the new Jasper plan still follows the mandatory elements passed down by the state, the corporation will no longer be allowed to refer to its model as the RISE. Two Dubois County school districts and the North Spencer School Corp. used some version of RISE last year while the Northeast Dubois School Corp. developed its own model.

Southwest Dubois School Corp. has been using a hybrid of the RISE system for the past two school years. The corporation had to begin evaluations earlier than most because of the timing of its teacher contract expiration. Superintendent Mike Eineman, who performed teacher observations himself as principal of Southridge High School, said corporation officials will consider some changes to their model when contract negotiations begin again in a few weeks.

“It is really time-consuming. I was one of those who never told a teacher when I was coming in. A lot of times you might be going in there and they might be giving a quiz or they might be doing some research work in the library. Then you have to go back again,” Eineman said. “I’m not saying the process is totally wrong. I think there have been some good things.”

Last year, principals in the Southwest district were required to do two long and two short observations of each teacher each year.

“When you throw 35 (teachers) in there, that’s a lot of time,” Eineman said.

Northeast Dubois Superintendent Bill Hochgesang said evaluations at the schools have been “going well.” Under the district plan, principals must conduct one long evaluation and three short reviews of each teacher every year. Hochgesang said officials will consider doing one less short observation of teachers who scored “effective” or better on the rubric. He added that the work involved for principals, though time-consuming, is still essential.

“There’s nothing more important in the school than what happens in the classroom, so we want to keep our focus there,” he said.

The Southeast Dubois and North Spencer school corporations also will reduce the number of required evaluations by the start of the new school year next month.

Contact Claire Moorman at cmoorman@dcherald.com.




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